Portrait Of God

Summary

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The agents investigating a failed kidnapping of a Delta Green agent discover death, madness, and a forgery.

The Forgery

Among the many artefacts stolen by the Karotechia in the 90s was a strange painting by an elusive Jewish painter, Ishmael Schiff, called Portrait of God. After the organisation’s disillusionment in the 2000s, the painting fell into the hands of the Propavsheye, who sought to understand its providence. Seeking funds for their research into the unnatural, the Propavsheye have hatched a plan to create a forgery of the original to fence back to its original owners in America. The forgery operation is being run out of a lodge in rural Maryland.

“Portrait of God”

The painting contains an alien intelligence referred to in Schiff’s notes as “The Gnashing”. The Gnashing is a predatory entity, who preys upon those with knowledge of the unnatural. It feeds by eroding the sanity of those who have been exposed to the unnatural, but understand little of it, eventually compelling them to seek out those with unnatural knowledge, murder them, and absorb their knowledge through Mephitic Memories. The Gnashing transmits itself to those who look upon the painting, this works even through photographs. Those marked by the Gnashing are marked by a bite mark that never fully heals. It has marked the forgery artist and one of the Propavsheye goons, who have since attacked and cannibalised their handler’s brains, absorbing his knowledge of unnatural rituals. The Gnashing also grants them with limited abilities to “smell” unnatural knowledge in others, which is how they found Agent Isidora, their second target.

Briefing

The agents are informed of an attempted kidnapping by two men in masks against one of Delta Green’s agents in Baltimore, Maryland. The assailants were dispersed, and the agent was taken to hospital for treatment.

Investigation

Agent Isidora

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Agent Isidora, real name Samadi Qutlugh, is an agent of Delta Green of Uyghur descent, though she no longer practices Islam. She is an experienced agent of Delta Green, and, once discharged from hospital, is even a viable option for a replacement agent. She’ll give the agents a description of her attackers:

  • They were caucasian males that spoke in a thick eastern-european accent.
  • One wore a bomber jacket and cargo pants, another was in a baggy, black t-shirt and a beanie.
  • They attacked her with a bull-whip and a taser, and one of them even bit her.
  • There were human bite marks on their arms and smelled of woodsmoke.
  • One of them had a tattoo of a shield with a weird cross on it on his neck. She will draw a rough version of it.

Agents with military science (land), occult, or high criminology, can identify it as the emblem of the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi paramilitary faction known as “AZOV Regiment”.

Surveillance State

The duo fled on foot for several blocks before stopping entering an abandoned apartment and casting the Dho-Hna Formula to teleport to the Lodge. Agents that pull CCTV footage from various businesses will see the men enter followed by an immense flash of blue light. Arriving at the apartment finds it abandoned except for a geometric sigil on the floor which agents with high Unnatural will recognize as the Dho-Hna Formula. Agents that make requisitions to the NSA or NRO for drone or satellite imaging. Although said footage will show a strange flash happening at the Lodge at exactly the same time as the Apartment, which may direct them to the Lodge. Once the agents learn the men’s identities, they can also track down their phones, which will reveal their location, as Arkadij’s sends metadata to a cell tower near the Lodge.

Criminal Database

Running their likeness through a federal criminal database or INTERPOL would reveal the men’s identities. Tymofiy Dzyuba and Arkadij Kohut, Tymofiy is listed as a member of a branch of the Ukrainian Mafia known as “The Propavsheye” and a former member of AZOV Regiment. Veteran Delta Green members would recognize that name from the downfall of the Karotechia, those that ask their case officers will receive information pertaining to them before long. Arkadij is listed as a suspect in several investigations of art fraud, though no warrants for his arrest exist.

Thieves Under the Law

This ordeal hasn’t gone under the Propavsheye’s radar, who has sent a group to look into this and take matters into hand. The team consists of Ilya Tretyak, a senior Propavsheye member, and two shooters. Ilya is unaware of the painting’s powers and that the woman who was assaulted was a Delta Green member, but he recognizes Delta Green when he sees it and will be careful around them. He and his men will arrive in Baltimore on the second day and begin their investigation, arriving at the Lodge on the third day to question the men. Upon learning of what they’ve done, they’ll kill them there and dump their bodies in the Chesapeake before burning the Lodge and returning with the painting to Ukraine.

Inside sources in the Propavsheye may alert Delta Green to this, who will in turn inform the agents, warning them to avoid interacting with them, and never to trust them.

The Lodge

The Propavsheye men have been living at a safehouse in rural Maryland. The men’s phones can be tracked to it and are connected to nearby phone towers. Tymofiy Dzyuba’s whereabouts aren’t officially known, as he is on the run from Ukrainian authorities. Arkadij Kohut’s credit card was used to purchase food and drink at a rural gas station not far from the lodge.

Additionally, within a few days of composite images of the two men being released to the public (if they are), the agents receive tips from people seeing men fitting that description in and around the town near the Lodge and at the lodge itself, as other properties are accessed from the road it's on. The lodge has, under the stewardship of Arkadij and Tymofiy, fallen to shambles. Garbage is littered about and windows are boarded. In the main room is an easel with an unfinished black canvas, this is Arkadij’s unfinished forgery of Portrait of God.

The Portrait itself is in the basement, blood is spattered across its walls, as well as scribbling in Ukrainian, raving about the Portrait being a thing of dread and royalty, that it must be fed with thought, and that the world will learn to fear it.

Confrontation

The agents should be pointed towards the Lodge for the scenario’s climax. Handlers should use their discretion and follow the scenario naturally for how this plays out, there’s no set point when Ilya Tretyak and his men arrive to clean house; right before or during the Agent’s raid on the Lodge, or, through a little misdirection, they arrive late, perhaps.

The Gnashing will feed on any violence that comes of this - channelled through the conduits of his two pawns (Powers of the Gnashing are outlined below).

The scenario has the potential to spiral into something even bigger. Agents working for the Program may receive half-hearted orders from their case officer to wrap the painting and deliver it to a hangar at Baltimore International Airport, where CORAL NOMAD is waiting for them. The painting may fall into the hands of Tretyak’s men, which may latch onto one of his shooters. The painting may even reach out to the mind of one of your agents and feed them visions of their deepest angers taken out on those around them - the ones who know the most of the unnatural, of course.

Entities and Artefacts

“Portrait of God”

Portrait of God is a painting accredited to, on the bottom of its baroque frame, to one “Ishmael Schiff”. It appears as a totally black canvas, the oil paint in thick globs and strokes on its surface. The painting, through unknown means, contains, or perhaps transmits a malevolent, predatory alien intelligence - The Gnashing. Destroying it may snuff out the Gnashing, or it may set it free, or whatever the Handler thinks will horrify their players best.

The Gnashing

A malevolent, immaterial intelligence that is channelled through the Portrait of God, or is it bound to it?

THE GNASHING
Thought Predator
INT 21 POW 17* (when the agents encounter it)
HP n/a WP 17
HEARTS AND MINDS: The Gnashing “feeds” on the minds of those touched by the unnatural. Mechanically, the Gnashing affects people differently depending on their % in the Unnatural skill.

  • People who have never encountered the unnatural and know nothing of it are totally unaffected.
  • People who have encountered the unnatural and have <10% Unnatural see a dimly lit figure in the darkness, though they can’t make out fine details. These people are vulnerable. They will be affected and eventually Marked.
  • People who have >10% can be affected, though it chooses not to affect them unless they were Marked.

BEAR WITNESS: The Gnashing will work to erode the will and sanity of the vulnerable before it marks them. Once per victim per day, it can force a WPx5 contest between someone who has touched it or seen it in the last 12 hours. If it succeeds, it plagues them with visions of extreme violence. The victim loses 1/1d6 SAN from violence and that much WP. Sleeping the night after receiving these visions does not recover any WP. Additionally, The Gnashing can use this on a marked victim every time they lose SAN from helplessness or sleep, and the SAN loss increases to 1d6/1d10.
MARK: When a victim of the Gnashing reaches 0 WP, the Gnashing can expend 1 POW to “Mark” them. They wake from a nightmare they cannot recall and find the scar of a human bite mark on their arms or chest that will bruise, but never heal. They lose 1/1d6 from Helplessness.
INSTRUCT THEM: The Gnashing can expend 5 WP teach the Marked, though visions in their sleep, the spell “Mephitic Memories”. It can also teach them a variety of other spells that the handler finds appropriate, including Clairvoyance, Ageless Banquet, and Warrior’s Ring. it costs 5 WP each time it does this.
FEED: The Gnashing gains back WP and POW in a number of ways. It regains 1 WP for every point of SAN to helplessness and every point of HP lost near it. It regains 1 POW and all of its WP every time that one of the Marked consumes the brain of a victim with 10%+ Unnatural with Mephitic Memories.
FURY: Whenever one of the Marked would go unconscious or die, the Gnashing can cause them to tap into an inhuman reservoir of endurance and rage. They return to 3 HP and will begin attacking anyone who isn’t Marked, fighting despite taking otherwise lethal trauma. Seeing this causes 1/1d6 from Violence.
INCITE RAGE: The Gnashing can expend 1 POW and force a POWx5 contest (with new total) with another character, if that character loses, they lose 5 SAN, go temporarily insane, and attack the nearest person to them with their fists or melee weapons.

The Marked, Tymofiy Dzyuba and Arkadij Kohut

TYMOFIY DZYUBA
Ex-Azov Regiment Propavsheye Enforcer
STR 14 CON 15 DEX 13 INT 10 CHA 9 POW 15
HP 14 WP 15 SAN 0
DISORDERS: Obsession (Feeding the Gnashing), Obsession (Cannibalistic Urges), Explosive Personality Disorder
SKILLS: Alertness 34%, Athletics 50%, Criminology 60%, Demolitions 46%, Dodge 32% Firearms 48%, Melee Weapons 50%, Unarmed 49%, Unnatural 2%
FOREIGN LANGUAGES: English 48%, Russian 34%, Ukrainian (native language)
ARMOR Kevlar Vest (1 armour)
ATTACKS AK-47 48% damage 1d12 armour piercing 3
Glock-17 48% damage 1d10
Bull-Whip 50% damage 1d6
SCENT: Tymofij can “smell” the taint of the unnatural on other people. The smell is disgusting, and it fills him with rage the longer he’s forced to smell it.
RITUALS: The Dho-Hna Formula, Mephitic Memories

ARKADIJ KOHUT
Propavsheye Art Forger
STR 10 CON 9 DEX 11 INT 14 CHA 12 POW 11
HP 10 WP 11 SAN 0
DISORDERS: Obsession (Feeding the Gnashing), Obsession (Cannibalistic Urges), Explosive Personality Disorder
SKILLS Alertness 30% Athletics 24%, Craft (painting) 60%, Criminology 51%, Dodge 40%, Firearms 20%, Melee Weapons 33%, Unarmed 40%, Unnatural 7%
FOREIGN LANGUAGES English 60%, French 50%, German 50%, Ukrainian (native language)
ATTACKS Makarov 20% damage 1d6
Steak knife 33% damage 1d4 Armour piercing 3
Taser 33% damage Stun
SCENT Arkadij can “smell” the taint of the unnatural on other people. The smell is disgusting, and it fills him with rage the longer he’s forced to smell it.
RITUALS: The Dho-Hna Formula, Mephitic Memories

Ilya Tretyak

ILYA TRETYAK

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Propavsheye Trouble-shooter
STR 14 CON 15 DEX 13 INT 13 CHA 15 POW 15
HP 14 WP 15 SAN 56 BREAKING POINT 40
MOTIVATIONS AND DISORDERS: Never showing weakness.
Eliminating threats to the Brotherhood.
Showing others how weak they really are.
Totemic Compulsion (Blessed Kukri)
Adapted to Violence and Helplessness
SKILLS: Alertness 61%, Athletics 56%, Craft (Mechanic) 41%, Criminology 68%, HUMINT 34%, Firearms 60%, First Aid 72%, Melee Weapons 57%, Military Science (Land) 70%, Persuade 56%, Stealth 60%, Survival 55%, Unarmed Combat 51%, Unnatural 21%
FOREIGN LANGUAGES: Russian 30%, Italian 10%, Bulgarian 20%, English 50%
ARMOUR: Kevlar Vest (1 armour)
ATTACKS: Unarmed 51%
Blessed Kukri 57%
Sig-Sauer P226 60% damage 1d10
RITUALS: Wrath of Sekhmet, Speaking Dream, Obscure Memory
BLESSED KUKRI: Tretyak carries a masterfully made Kukri with him with geometric symbols etched along its surface. Although it won’t be of any use here, Tretyak’s Kukri may prove to be useful in later scenarios, as it is capable of harming incorporeal creatures in a similar fashion to Agent AARON’s starmetal machete.

Credits

Portrait of God was written by Fin Deeley for the 2022 Shotgun Scenario contest.
Source: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z9jXwRKA5-3QsEEzaJvOlqm_X0cY0qv5fY4UbwmgqHw/edit#.

The intellectual property known as Delta Green is ™ and © the Delta Green Partnership. The contents of this document are © their respective authors, excepting those elements that are components of the Delta Green intellectual property.